Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

Potatoes in Buckets

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Last time I talked about the basic steps for planting sprouted potatoes. Today I’m going to go over some more details of exactly what I did (so when things don’t turn out at the end of the season, I’ll have a checklist of what not to do next year). Here are some of my sprouted potatoes, cut up and left to scab overnight:

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Normally I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about planting grocery store potatoes, but Dana insists on buying organic potatoes (other vegetables she doesn’t care as much). When these sprouted, since they were organic and tasty, I decided they were worth planting instead of buying new seed potatoes.

My house doesn’t have gutters (yet) so instead of having one large rain barrel connected to a downspout somewhere I line up a few 5 gallon buckets along the drip line of my roof. This works well for much of the spring and early summer to collect water that I can use later. And of course, it means I have a few buckets laying around to use in my evil mad scientist potato growing experiments BWAHAHAHA (insert more maniacal laughter here)!

This year, I used two 5-gallon plastic bucket, and a large clear plastic tote for my potatoes.

I used a 1 inch wood drill bit to quickly drill several large holes into the bottom and around the bottom edge of each bucket for drainage. Into each bucket I added a thin layer of straw and leaves from last autumn. This, in my mind, will help improve drainage and prevent dirt from seeping out through the holes in the bucket.

Into each bucket I then added a layer of compost, 4 chunks of potato (sprouts facing up!), a layer of a potting soil we had around (enough to cover the potatoes) and then another thin layer of straw. This top layer of straw, again in my mind, will help to retain soil moisture like any mulch, and will help to add some air pockets, improved drainage and lightness to the soil so the roots and small potatoes have somewhere to grow and room to expand.

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When the potato plants start to grow taller, I’ll continue to fill in more layers to the bucket, topping off each time with a little bit more straw for this exact reason (it doesn’t hurt that I have so much excess straw laying around). The straw and leaves will also decompose over the season, adding even more nutrients to the mix.

I have two buckets and a large clear plastic tote prepared like this. Assuming we can get about 1 or 2 pounds of potatoes per 5 gallons of bucket volume, I think we’ll be in good shape come fall and winter.

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Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

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